After murder charge, question remains: Where is Jessica Heeringa?

Search continues for Jessica Heeringa's body more than 3 years after she vanished

Jessica Heeringa, Jeffrey Willis, Sheridan Road
The site of old train tracks along Sheridan Road in Muskegon Township where authorities believe Jessica Heeringa was originally buried. (Sept. 21, 2016)


MUSKEGON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A murder charge, but no body.

Jeffrey Willis has been charged with kidnapping and murdering Jessica Heeringa, who went missing from her workplace in Norton Shores in April 2013, but investigators haven’t found her remains. Authorities say the Norton Shores Police Department is dedicated to bringing her home.

jessica heeringa
Jessica Heeringa went missing from the Norton Shores gas station where she worked on April 26, 2013.

“Both Lt. (Michael) Kasher and Chief (Jon) Gale have made that commitment to the Heeringa family that this doesn’t end the saga, so to speak,” Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson told 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday. “We’re going to continue to look and follow any leads that we get in order to bring her home.”

According to court documents, Willis’ cousin, Kevin Bluhm, told investigators that he helped Willis bury Heeringa off Sheridan Road north of E. Laketon Avenue in Muskegon Township. Investigators say they’re sure her body was there at one time.

The area in question, which is about a third of a mile from Willis’ home, is the site of old train tracks that make a path through the woods. Police first searched there in June on the same day they interviewed Bluhm.

“We were pretty excited of the fact that we might in fact make that discovery, only obviously not to make that discovery,” Hilson told 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday.

Since then, they’ve searched twice more.

“We spent a lot of time out there, used some forensic techniques in order to determine whether or not there was a dead body buried there and ultimately came up with nothing,” Hilson said.

“It’s our belief that she has been moved and we are in the process of trying to find where she’s at,” he continued. “Is she in Muskegon County? Absolutely could be. Is she outside of Muskegon County? Sure, that’s a possibility.”

Kevin Bluhm
Kevin Bluhm enters a Muskegon County courtroom on Sept. 20, 2016 to be arraigned on a charge of being an accessory after the fact in Jessica Heeringa’s murder.

When asked if Bluhm said anything about moving the body or if authorities think he was involved in doing so, Hilson said he couldn’t comment on Bluhm’s statement.

But he added, “I guess you can kind of put two and two together for yourself. I would find it very hard to move a body by myself. And whether it was Bluhm or Bluhm and somebody else, whatever the case is, certainly I think Mr. Willis had some help.”

But as to whether a third person could have been involved, Hilson said, “we have no evidence to suggest that.”

When asked if Bluhm was involved in anything before helping to move the body, Hilson said, “Even if he was, I couldn’t comment on that.”

“Certainly, we’ve charged him with … what we believe we have evidence to prove,” he continued.

Jeffrey Hilson
Jeffrey Willis seems to smirk at prosecutors as he enters a courtroom on Sept. 20, 2016 to be arraigned on charges of kidnapping and murder in the death of Jessica Heeringa.

But if Willis killed Heeringa, surely he would know where her body is. So does Hilson think he’ll ever tell?

“I don’t know,” Hilson said. “That’s for Mr. Willis to decide.”

Willis also faces charges for murdering Rebekah Bletsch in June 2014 and trying to abduct a teen girl in April of this year. He has also been charged with felonies for the creation and possession of child pornography and for videotaping unclothed underage girls without their knowledge.

Bluhm has been charged with being an accessory after the fact in Heeringa’s murder.

Anyone with any information about where Heeringa’s remains may be is asked to call NSPD at 231.733.2691 or Muskegon County Silent Observer at 231.722.7463.

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